WASHINGTON — Elliott Broidy worked his way through school at a laundromat and later became wealthy as a venture capitalist and defense contractor. Along the way, he became a pillar in the Jewish community of Los Angeles and an influential Republican fund-raiser.
In the early days of the Trump administration, Mr. Broidy worked to influence America’s foreign relations. He is under federal investigation into possible violations of lobbying laws. And his arrangements with the government of the United Arab Emirates and a Malaysian financier are of particular interest to prosecutors.
Here are some takeaways from The New York Times’s report about this Trump ally.
Mr. Broidy’s associate was paid by the United Arab Emirates.
During the week of festivities around the inauguration, Mr. Broidy met an adviser to the United Arab Emirates, George Nader, whom he saw as an entry point to potentially lucrative business opportunities in the Middle East.
For the next several months, the two men worked closely while Mr. Nader was paid millions of dollars by the United Arab Emirates. During that time, Mr. Broidy started a campaign against Qatar, a small country in the Middle East with American military facilities that has long been considered a strategic ally of the United States.
With access to the president and top aides, Mr. Broidy promoted Qatar’s regional rivals, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two countries from which he was seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts for his private security and intelligence firm, Circinus. Federal prosecutors are investigating these financial connections.
Donations to think tanks and a nonprofit helped drive the anti-Qatar effort.
As part of the anti-Qatar campaign, Mr. Broidy donated $240,000 to a nonprofit media outlet, American Media Institute. That organization produced articles critical of Qatar and pieces favorable to Mr. Broidy’s clients and prospective clients.
Mr. Broidy also donated money to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Hudson Institute, two Washington think tanks, for conferences with speakers critical of Qatar. Mr. Broidy said the donations were from his own money. But in some of his communications with Mr. Nader, Mr. Broidy described the Emiratis and the Saudis as the clients of the advocacy campaign.
The exact impact of Mr. Broidy’s anti-Qatar work is unclear, but just months into his administration, Mr. Trump took credit for Saudi Arabia’s decision to isolate Qatar.
Mr. Broidy was an avid player of Washington’s influence game.
In 2009, Mr. Broidy was shunned by Republicans after he admitted paying off New York State officials to win an investment from the state pension fund. But Mr. Broidy regained his status when he became a major fund-raiser for Mr. Trump’s campaign and his inauguration, securing him a second chance at being a Republican power broker.
From this perch, Mr. Broidy offered inauguration tickets to officials from Angola, the Republic of Congo and Romania — three countries he courted for contracts that could have been worth as much as $266 million.
Mr. Broidy’s checkered past and access to Mr. Trump were not unique.
Mr. Broidy became the deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. He resigned last year after it was revealed that he had agreed to pay $1.6 million in hush money to a former Playboy model with whom he had an affair. Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, advised Mr. Broidy on the arrangement.
Other administrations have closely examined the backgrounds of influential supporters, though that is a lower priority in this administration.
For example, Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, earned millions working for foreign dictators and business leaders. Mr. Manafort is now serving time for financial crimes.
The chairman of Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee and close friend, Thomas J. Barrack Jr., is under investigation for possible lobbying violations.
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